California agencies that offer home health care programs have been negatively affected by state budget cuts and changes to federal rules, HealthyCal reports (Flores, HealthyCal, 10/6).
This summer, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a package of bills to close the state's budget deficit.
The $85.9 billion general fund budget included several changes to health and human services programs. For example, the budget seeks to reduce state spending by:
- $623 million by cutting health care providers' reimbursements for Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- by 10%;
- $582 million over two years by implementing cost-containment procedures for programs that serve people with developmental disabilities;
- $140 million by installing drug-dispensing machines in the homes of In-Home Supportive Services beneficiaries; and
- $67 million by requiring IHSS beneficiaries to obtain medical certification stating that they need in-home care.
The new budget also assumes the state will receive $128 million in additional federal funds for IHSS.
If California's tax revenue falls short of expectations, the budget plan will trigger additional cuts to health programs and other state services (California Healthline, 7/5).
Programs Affected by Cuts
IHSS received a 3.8% cut under the budget package, according to Sam Trevino, the public information officer for Monterey County's Aging and Adult Services.
Statewide, 438,000 individuals are expected to use IHSS in fiscal year 2011-2012, according to the SCAN Foundation.
Trevino said an additional 20% cut -- or $100 million -- still is a possibility under the automatic trigger. He said that the likelihood of triggered cuts will become clearer when the state finalizes second-quarter reports in mid-December.
In addition, local health care programs, including Central Coast Visiting Nurses' Association and Hospice, have been affected by federal adjustments.
CCVNA offers services from skilled medical professionals who provide in-home assistance to individuals recovering from illnesses or surgery. CCVNA serves residents of Monterey and San Benito counties who are covered by private insurance, as well as Medi-Cal and Medicare.
Steven Johnson, president and CEO of CCVNA, said some of the challenges the agency is facing include the economic downturn, reduced government payments and more stringent regulations. For example, the federal health reform law requires patients to have in-person meetings with home health care providers within nine months before services begin or within 30 days after services start (HealthyCal, 10/6).